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Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Control of outbreak not adequate' - Irish Ebola doctor feared infection in Africa

Published 04/09/2014 | 12:50

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Dubliner Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick, chairman of Medecins Sans Frontirres (MSF) Ireland, called on the west to help fight the spread of the virus at the source.
Dubliner Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick, chairman of Medecins Sans Frontirres (MSF) Ireland, called on the west to help fight the spread of the virus at the source.
Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick (third from left) with  MSF colleagues in Western Chad four years ago were he helped contain a cholera outbreak.
Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick pictured in Western Chad four years ago where he helped contain a cholera outbreak.

Basic elements of outbreak control are not being met in West Africa, according to an Irish doctor who has recently returned from Sierra Leone where he was battling to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

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Dubliner Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick, chairman of Medecins Sans Frontirres (MSF) Ireland, called on the west to help fight the spread of the virus at the source.

He said the threat of contracting the virus was always at the back of his mind while he was in West Africa.

Asked if he would go back he said: “You should ask my wife that question.”

Dubliner Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick, chairman of Medecins Sans Frontirres (MSF) Ireland, called on the west to help fight the spread of the virus at the source.

The doctor also spoke about how an MSF nurse had contracted the virus and died while working in the region.

It comes as health officials said that more than 1,900 people have died from the virus.

Added to that, more than 3,500 people have been infected in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the first documented cases in December.

Dr Fitzpatrick – who is now back in Europe – said that there has been some successes in dealing with the virus but that he has been identifying new cases occurring daily.

“In the centre I was working with, we now have 17 patients who have been cured from Ebola, but overall, unfortunately, we’re detecting new clusters of cases in remote villages almost every day.

“That just indicates that control of the outbreak is not adequate at the moment,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

The doctor, who travelled to the region at the beginning of August, has witnessed entire families being wiped out by the virus.

Meanwhile, a British nurse William Pooley (29), who recovered from Ebola after being given the experimental drug Zmapp, has left hospital in London.

hnews@herald.ie

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